Symbols are used by cultures to convey how they interpret the world around them. Over the evolution of a culture, human personality traits are often assigned to animals, plants and other items from the natural world in order to help the society explain complicated ideas in simpler terms. For example, because of the story of the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise has come to be a symbol of patience and thoughtfulness in western culture. Symbols used to represent a society's understanding of beauty and strength are particularly interesting because these concepts vary from culture to culture.
In the Celtic tradition, the symbol of the bear signified feminine strength through motherhood. This association came about when the Celtic people saw mother bears taking to caves to hibernate for the winter and then re-emerging in the spring with new cubs. They saw this as a sign that the bear was related to the idea of rebirth and regeneration. Celtic tradition refers to the bear as the Great Mother because of the ferocious nature she used to protect her children.
Different types of flowers are traditionally associated with different moral and social characteristics. The daffodil is viewed as a symbol of strength because of its ability to return every spring, even after the harshest of winters, strong as ever. It is associated with beauty because flowers are associated with fertility and femininity. Daffodils are also given to people as a token of forgiveness or appreciation for honesty.
Native American Horse
In Native American cultures the horse is symbolic of beauty, strength, power, stamina, love and devotion. After the Spanish colonists first introduced the horse to the Native Americans, the animal began to be seen in various forms of native art. The horse was often drawn in magical ways; for example, it is often portrayed flying, with shamans riding on its back. The horse has also become associated with freedom, wildness, and fertility by many western cultures.
Chinese Cherry Blossom
The cherry blossom is used in Chinese culture as a symbol of power, feminine beauty and sexuality. It is a symbol that can be found in historical and modern Chinese art. If an unopened cherry blossom is portrayed in Chinese art it is often represented alongside blossoms that have already opened. This combination of unopened buds and opened blossoms is meant to symbolise the unexplored journeys in a person's life.
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